Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Stop Motion Fun Stuff: Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas, Pt. 3

Due to all the holiday festivities going on I had to really rush to get this post out on time, But anyway here's the last part of the Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas show.

I hope you all have a vary merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Stop-Motion How-To: Achieving the Chroma-Key Effect

Chroma keying is the process of replacing a solid background with a picture or digital set. Colors like blue and green are most commonly used for chroma keying because they are the best contrast for the human skin, allowing the computer to better decipher the differences between the subject and the unwanted background. Chroma keying will allow you to incorporate more digital material into your movie, saving you from having to construct complicated and expensive sets.

Admittedly, getting the chroma key to produce a seamless product creates frustrations of its own.If you follow the tips Mark Apsolon outlines in the two vids below will help lessen some of the strains and headaches of chroma keying. You can check out the program VisionLab Studio that Mark talks about in his second vid here but If you don't want to pay $350.00-$450.00 for the full version, you can download Wax, a free chroma key program, but keep in mind that because it is free, it doesn't offer nearly the number of options that bigger programs do.

How to make awesome Chroma key!
How to use Green Screen Software for Chroma Keying

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stop-Motion Fun Stuff: Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas, Pt. 2

Here's the second installment in Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Stop Motion News: Wallace and Gromit Christmas Idents on BBC One

Wallace and Gromit have recently appeared in a series of TV idents for BBC One, in honor of UK release of Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death on Christmas Day. Unfortunately for me and thousands of other Wallace and Gromit fans, Aardman has yet to schedule the US release. In the mean time, we can catch these W&G Christmas idents from BBC One.

Wallace and Gromit BBC One Christmas Idents Hanging the Christmas Lights
Wallace and Gromit BBC One Christmas Idents Going Caroling
Wallace and Gromit BBC One Christmas Idents Dusting Off Snow
Wallace and Gromit BBC One Christmas Idents Snow Angels
Wallace and Gromit BBC One Christmas Idents Sledge Walk

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Stop motion How-to: Removing Rigs From Your Stop-Motion Videos

Paul from Stop Motion Pro has put out quite a few short vids, showing how to use the stop-motion animation capture program Stop Motion Pro. One of these vids shows how to remove things like rigs or other unwanted objects from your stop-motion animated film. Luckily, you don't even need to purchase the Stopmotionpro software to use this method.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Stop Motion News: Coraline

Lykia Studios new full-length stop-motion movie based off of Neil Gaiman's book Coraline. Coraline will release into theaters February 6. Directed by Henry Selick (who was also the directer for Nightmare Before Christmas), Coraline features absolutely eye-popping animation. It looks like it could be the best (as far as animation goes) stop-motion feature-length movie ever made.

Check out the preview and some behind the scenes stuff below

Behind the Scenes Of Coraline, Pt. 1
Behind the Scenes of Coraline, Pt. 2
Behind the Scenes of Coraline, Pt. 3
Behind the Scenes of Coraline, Pt. 4

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Stop-Motion Fun Stuff: Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas, Pt. 1

Well, it's one of my favorite times of the year again - Christmas! To help celebrate this wonderful season, I will be posting the entire Claymation Christmas show in this and the the next two "Stop-Motion Fun Stuff" posts. I hope you enjoy them.

Stop Motion How-To: Sculpting

Sculpting is a important part of stop-motion animation because it allows you to portray your model's characteristics. For the most part brick film and toy animators won't need to know how to sculpt, but if you are planning on doing an animation with a clay, silicone, or plastic, sculpting is a necessity.

Sculpting is a skill gained more through experience than through teaching. Although you can definitely pick up a trick or two by watching experienced sculptors, you must work at sculpting until you have mastered the skill. If you have just started sculpting, you're probably still making crude blobs of clay. But don't be discouraged, because if you put your heart in it, you will get better. Every time you sculpt, challenge yourself to try something a little harder. And who says you can't make a great animation with a blob of clay? provides a very helpful DVD How to Sculpt Puppets 2 DVD Set, containing a ton of tips and tricks that I've used over and over again.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stop Motion Fun Stuff: Star Wars EP3 Trailer, Lego Version

Jedichris8 took Star Wars Episode III : Rise of the Empire, a Star Wars brick film made by Jay Silver, and mixed it with one of the Star Wars EP3 trailers. He did a great job piecing it together. The animation in it is quite good, and the special affects are superb! (Check it out below.)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stop Motion News: Aardman's New TV Show Timmy Time

Those of you who have been watching the Shaun the Sheep TV show are probably familiar with the youngest sheep in the flock, Timmy. Timmy is now staring in his very own TV show Timmy Time. Currently in production, Timmy Time will be released sometime in 2009. It has already been purchased by Disney channels worldwide, including the U.S. The episodes will run for 10-minutes (twice the length of the Shaun the Sheep episodes). Although Timmy Time is labeled for a younger audience I'm sure it (like most of Aardman's productions)will be entertaining to both adults and kids.

For those if you who unfamiliar with Timmy, here are a few clips from the Shaun the Sheep.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stop Motion How-To: Eyes and Eyebrows

The most expressive part of the body are the eyes and eyebrows. Gromit from the Wallace and Gromit series is arguably the most expressive and emotional character in the whole series, but because he can't talk, his emotions are communicated in his facial expressions, particularly his eyes and eyebrows. The eyes show where your model is focusing his attention, and the eyebrows indicate the type and intensity of emotion in the reaction. You must try to mesh the eyes and the brow movements so they work as one. If you can accomplish this, you will be able to create realistic facial expression for your model.


There are quite a a few ways to create an eye. I would recommend the plastic Derlin eyeball (check them out here at Amazon). In order to animate it, you will need to melt a small hole in the ball. To do so you'll need the following supplies, in addition to the eyeball: 1. An old needle. 2. A hand-held propane torch. 3. A pair of pliers.

Start up the torch flame and turn the knob until you can see a little blue in the flame (be sure not to turn it up to high). Next grab the non-pointy end of the needle with the pliers and hold the needle's pointy end in the flame until the end of the needle is red. Then prick the needle into the eyeball, in approximately the location of the pupil, until it begins to melt a small hole in the plastic. Do this several times until you've melted a hole about halfway through the plastic eyeball. Afterwards, paint the pupil area, around the hole, (see pic above) with a non-chip paint.


Eyebrows are actually very easy. Basically, all you need to do is carve a hair pattern in a small strip of clay and stick it on your models forehead.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Stop-Motion Fun Stuff: NoRabbits' Minutes

NoRabbits' Minutes is a quirky short stop motion series made by I.Toon Studios in Japan for their 110th anniversary. Unfortunately, because it was made in and for Japan, that's about all I can find out about it. As far as I know, the dvd of the full short series is available only in Japan,
but I.Toon Studios has made the first episode available on YouTube (see below).

NoRabbits' Minutes Episode 1:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Stop Motion News: Wallace and Gromit New Short "A Matter of Loaf and Death"

In just two months Aardman is about the bring the famous duo of Wallace and Gromit back in a all new short feature A Matter of Loaf and Death (previously titled Trouble at the Mill)

In A Matter of Loaf and Death Wallace and Gromit have taken up the cooking profession and started a bakery. But danger lurks around every corner when someone begins exterminating the bakers, and Wallace is next on the list! If you want to learn more about A Matter of Loaf and Death check out The Wallace and Gromit site here.

Also check out the vid at the bottom of the post showing Nick Park giving the first official announcement of A Matter of Loaf and Death.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stop Motion How-To: Creating an Armature

An armature is essential in creating a stop-motion puppet that is capable of animation. An armature is the skeleton that holds together the puppet. Not only does an armature hold the puppet together, it also keeps it in the correct pose. This is very important.

The best (and most expensive) armature is the ball and socket. These are constructed of (if you hadn't guessed) metal ball and socket joints, and they seem work quite well. Most pro studios like Aardman use the ball and socket type armatures. However, because each piece on a ball and socket is made by hand, they can get quite pricey. You can buy lower-end ball and socket armatures for pretty good prices here.

Brass tube armatures are made of wood, wire, metal, and bass tubing. These are really nice because they allow you to remove and replace certain parts of the armature, such as hands, feet, heads, and so on. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any retailers who offer these armatures. If you're interested in learning how to make a brass tube armature, check out Marc Spess's DVD How to Make Aluminum Wire Armatures.

Most amateur animators (such as myself) use wire armatures made from 1/16-inch aluminum wire. They work really well and are relatively easy to make! heres a picture that shows some of the parts on a stop-motion wire armature here . Marc Spess again made a nice vid (available on YouTube) showing the basics of armature making(Look below)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fun Stuff: Tim Liebe's Eigendynamik

Here's a creative short stop-motion vid I found on the Animator DV site. It was made by a guy named Tim Liebe, using the Animator DV software. Check it out here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Stop-Motion News: Neverhood Movie

The Neverhood, an adventure video game created totally in stop-motion clay animation, came out in 1996, and most people agree that it was the best clay-animation game ever. Now Frederator Studios are bringing the wacky world of The Neverhood back in a full-length feature film, premiering sometime next year. Luckily, Frederator Studios are producing the movie in clay animation, just like the game. Doug TenNapel, who designed and animated on the game. is coming back to work on the film. For those of you who haven't seen anything of The Neverhood, here is a cut scene from the 1996 game:

The Neverhood: Pulling of the Pin

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stop Motion How-To: Timing

One of the biggest problems an animator will run into is getting the timing on his animation right. This will determine whether or not his puppet looks like it's moving at the right speed. Anthony Scott came up with a quick and easy method for finding out how many frames are needed for a movement that takes less than or exactly a second.

One-thou-sand-one is the key word in this trick. The amount of time it takes to say one thousand one equals 24 frames or a second worth of animation time. But the nice thing about the word is you can break the word into fewer syllables for timing smaller movements. For instance:

One equals 6 frames.

One-thou equals 12 frames.

One-thou-sand equals 18 frames.

And one-thou-sand-one is 24 frames.

If the animator requires a movement that takes longer than a second to complete, he'll need to film himself performing the movement and note how long the movement takes. I highly recommended Marc Spess's How to Animate Puppets 2 DVD Set It gives a more in-depth explanation on timing and also demonstrates many other neat stop motion tricks.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fun Stuff: Stop-Motion Animation Frame by Frame

I found this cool little video this afternoon. Someone filmed a stop-motion animator while he was animating some puppets and sped it up so that it looks like the puppet us actually moving while the animator animated him. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stop Motion How-To: The Different Kinds of Stop-Motion Animation

Today, I'm going to talk about some of the different techniques that can be used in stop-motion animation.

Clay Animation

Clay animation (Which is personally my favorite type of Animation) involves sculpting and animating your model in mainly clay. Here's and example from the Cracking Contraptions Wallace and Gromit series:


Toy-mation uses a toy, such as an action figure or a Lego figure as the model used for animation. NathanWells made the following toy-mation/brick film clip for the 30th anniversay of the Lego mini figures:

2-D Clay Animation

In 2-D clay animation, a flat clay character is laid on a flat surface such as a table and made to look like he is standing. Here's an example from a short Marc Spess made using 2-D claymation.

Paper Animation

Paper animation utilizes the same concept as 2-D clay animation. The only difference is that the animator uses paper cutouts instead of a clay figure. Here is a great animation, made by Megan Brain for a United Airlines commerical during the Summer Olympics.

These are just a few examples of stop-motion animation. The limits to the models and settings are dependent only the animator's imagination.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fun Stuff: Aardman's Morph Files

For anyone who doesn't know who Aardman is (if there is such a person), Aardman is arguably the most famous claymation studio of all-time. They made huge claymation blockbusters such as Chicken Run, Creature Comforts, and the Wallace and Gromit series. The company was started by David Sproxton and Peter Lord. Their first big break they got was a clever animation known as The Amazing Adventures of Morph. Aardman recently brought Morph back for a short series they put on DVD. Unfortunately, it's only available in the pal [Regan 2] format, which means it will only work for those who live in the UK... So if you don't live UK and want to catch a glance at what morph is up to here are some vids Aardman posted on their YouTube page.

Morph - Magic Door

Morph - Messy

Morph - Card Trick

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Stop-motion news: Justin Rasch's Gerald's Last Day

My brother was searching the Web the other day and found this stop-motion short film that's coming out pretty soon. When he showed me, I was really surprised that I hadn't heard anything about it before. Its called Gerald's Last Day, and it's about a dog at the pound who has five hours left before they put him down. In that time, he tries to convince people to adopt him. It looks like it could be a really good film! I think almost all of it is being made by a guy named Justin Rasch, with a little help from his family and friends. He's been working on it for two and half years now, and I think he's getting pretty close to finishing it.

Here's a vid he posted about his film...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Stop Motion How-to: How Stop-Motion Animation Works

Because this is the first post in Stop Motion How-To section, let's start with the basics.How exactly is stop-motion animation done?

Animators take a model made out of plastic, clay, wood, and even flexible toys. Anything that can hold its position will work. The model is placed in front of a still camera. If the animator wanted the model to wave its arm, he would move the model's arm a tiny bit, then take a picture. This process is repeated until the animator has completed the wave motion.

The amount of pictures needed to form the wave depends on how fast the arm needs to appear to be moving. Most animators shoot at 24 fps (frames per second), which is the same speed at which a live-action camera shoots. Some animators even shoot up to 30 fps in order to make the animation appear even smoother.

Stop-motion animation was the first type of 3D animation to come into the entertainment world. It was mostly used for the kind of special effects now accomplished through CG. King Kong (1933) probably features the most well-known stop-motion character ever. Stop motion has come along way from the crude animation of King Kong to huge blockbusters such as Wallace and Gromit, Nightmare Before Christmas, Chicken Run, and many others.

Introduction to

Hi, I'm Jared Weiland.

Welcome to my website "Stop Motion 101," a website devoted to expanding the world of stop-motion animation. This site I will be spliting up into three different sections.

Stop Motion How-to: This is where I'll give some helpful tutorials and tips and tricks on stop motion.

Stop Motion News: This is where I'll fill you in on everything that is happening in the world of Stop Motion.

Fun Stuff: And last but not least a little bit of stuff just for fun.

I'm excited to see where this site is going to take me, and I hope you'll join me!